The Conversion Agenda

"Freedom to convert" is counterproductive as a generalized doctrine. It fails to come to terms with the complex interrelationships between self and society that make the concept of individual choice meaningful. Hence, religious conversion undermines, and in extremes would dissolve, that individual autonomy and human freedom.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Kerala Church takes up Communist Agenda

Don Sebastian
Friday, November 18, 2005 23:50 IST

After cozying up to the Left in Kerala in the recent panchayat polls, Catholic Church has adopted its former bete noire's pet theme: anti-globalisation. Kerala Catholic Youth Movement (KCYM), a lay association closely associated with the Church, is campaigning against globalisation and World Trade Organisation.

Though a few Church-sponsored pressure groups, like Indian Farmers' Movement (Infam), have voiced their concerns about the plight of rural economy in a liberalised world, it is the first time the Church is overtly campaigning against globalisation and its vanguard WTO.

If communists quote Gramsci and Chomsky to spice up their anti-imperialist rhetoric, Catholics too have their own source of inspiration.

A Passage from Centesimus Annus, a social encyclical by the late Pope John Paul II, adds Christian credentials to the movement against globalisation.

A paper prepared by International Movement of Catholic Agricultural and Rural Youth (MIJARC), which is aligned with KCYM, quotes the pontiff as having said: "A society of free work, of enterprise, of participation…demands that the market be appropriately controlled by the forces of society and by the state so as to guarantee that the basic needs of the whole society are satisfied.''

The paper highlights the need to promote food safety through just and fair trade and defend peasants' rights and food sovereignty.

It stresses on small-scale farming practices against the manipulative trade practices of the industrialised world.

"We have been prompted to campaign against the policies of WTO in view of its ill-effects on our agricultural field and the suicides by desperate farmers. We want to register our protest through the Indian government delegation which is to participate in the WTO meet in Hong Kong in December," said Fr T Christudas, KCYM's Neyyattinkara diocese director.

But he denied the move reflected any change in the Church's political ideology. "We have no lenience to the Left. As a youth movement, we have been standing for moral values. We want to highlight the problems faced by our society," he said.

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